Review of Swipe Right by Tagan Shepard
This is the first book I’ve read by this author but it won’t be my last. Somehow Ms. Shepard flew under my radar but I got a taste of her writing in Bella’s Wedding Anthology Save the Date, I particularly enjoyed the introduction. I was intrigued by this book’s theme of online dating but mostly about one of the characters suffering from a rare disease.
After a nasty divorce and then a failed relationship, Kieran is ready to date again so she asks her best friend Penelope for help with online dating. After every failed date, Pen is there to give her support and listen to her ranting. Maybe the right person was in front of her all along?
This novel has two main themes, one is Kieran’s online dating experience and the other is her relationship with her best friend Penelope. Through the years, I’ve read a few books about characters going through (or suffering) online dating and the difficulty of finding the right person in that environment where people can have very different agendas. Most of the books I’ve read – for example, 30 Dates in 30 Days – tend to show ridiculous, dreadful, or funny experiences. I loved 30 Dates in 30 Days but I’m glad that Swipe Right‘s plot focused on more real issues that anyone who has done online dating can empathize with.
There is a lot going on for both characters in their lives and some unresolved issues for both. Some of them are pretty heavy but Ms. Shepard adds a bit of levity and humor to balance it out, Ms. Shepard writes humor very well, and sometimes it made me laugh out loud. I appreciated that the levity wasn’t so much in the online dating experience but in the relationship between Kieran and Pen. Those two have very good friendship chemistry, so much so that I’m glad that the author took her time to develop a romantic relationship between them. The novel is written in first person from Kieran’s Point of view so the reader can see how she slowly starts to realize what her true feelings are but Pen’s feelings are harder to understand.
Both characters are well fleshed out and I appreciated that Ms. Shepard went beyond any stereotypes to create these characters. I loved the diversity in sexual orientation and gender identity in different characters and seeing Kieran’s struggle to be accepted as pansexual gave me food for thought. I also loved the way the author describes Pen’s struggles with her health, related to her suffering from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome which I knew nothing about. However, I wasn’t totally convinced about Pen’s change of attitude in her own dating life.
Regarding the main characters’ names, here in Ireland Kieran is a very common male name so it was hard for me to represent in my mind such a feminine character. I also related the name Penelope to the Greek myth of the faithful wife waiting for her husband to return from the war. It made me wonder if there was any symbolism to the author’s choice of names.
Overall, a very good friends-to-lovers romance with a bit of food for thought on the side. 4 stars.